It was widely known as FEGO – or fake Lego – and for years parents in China bought Lepin’s products to supplement their children’s Lego collections or simply as a cheaper substitute for the Danish brand.
That was until last month, when Lepin announced it had stopped production after a police raid on its factory in Shenzhen.
The company – which has been turning out “Lego compatible” goods since 2015 – is said to have ignored court rulings last year telling it to stop production. The police said they had arrested four employees and seized goods worth Rmb200 million ($29.35 million).
In the past Lepin has released product lines to coincide with Lego’s marketing campaigns. Photos from the raid show sets of Star Wars-inspired building blocks and boxes of “Lepin Bricks 2” made to look like the official sets produced for the release of Lego Movie 2.
Part of the Chinese brand’s appeal was that its goods cost about a third of the price of real Lego. But it was surprising to many IP lawyers that Lepin’s run lasted as long as it did. Even its logo – a red square with the word Lepin written inside – looked just like Lego’s.
Lego has plans to open a further 80 stores in China this year, taking the total number to 140. The company is also building a Legoland theme park outside Shanghai and has likewise inked a deal to build another park in Hainan.
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